Airplane! / B1 / Japan

05.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Airplane!
AKA
Flying High (Japan - English title | Australia | New Zealand)
Year of Film
1980
Director
Jim Abrahams | David Zucker | Jerry Zucker
Starring
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hays, Leslie Nielsen, Lorna Patterson, Robert Stack, Stephen Stucker, Otto, Jim Abrahams, Frank Ashmore, Jonathan Banks
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1980
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Robert Grossman
Size (inches)
28 12/16" x 40 7/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Featuring the same artwork from the US one sheet, this is the Japanese B1 poster for one of the funniest films of all time, Airplane! The film was the creation of the celebrated writers Jerry ZuckerJim Abrahams, and David Zucker (collectively known as ZAZ) who had garnered critical acclaim for their small theatre productions as the Kentucky Fried Theatre, which they formed in 1971. The idea for the film was arrived at after the trio saw the 1957 disaster movie Zero Hour! and realised it had the perfect structure to be adapted into a comedy film. A script was written and completed in 1975 but the trio had little experience in filmmaking so it was shelved for a while as they pulled together a script based on their theatre sketches. This was filmed and released as The Kentucky Fried Movie in 1978, directed by John Landis. Ultimately it gave them the necessary experience to feel confident enough to direct Airplane!

As well as riffing on Zero Hour!, the film is a send-up of disaster movies of the seventies such as Airplane (1975) and takes place on board a stricken passenger jet. Robert Hays stars as Ted Striker, an ex-Navy pilot who was traumatised during the War and has a pathological fear of flying. Desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) Striker follows her onto a Trans American flight from Los Angeles to Chicago on which she is working as a flight attendant. Determined to speak to Elaine, he makes several attempts to get her attention but nothing works until food poisoning strikes both passengers and crew. Attention falls on Striker as the aircrafts best hope for survival and he must overcome his psychological aversion to sitting behind the controls.

In Airplane! the jokes come thick and fast and are both spoken and visual (sight gags). Several actors were playing against type, notably Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen. The latter’s career was to skyrocket following this film with starring roles in the ZAZ TV show Police Squad! as well as the trilogy of films based on the series, Naked Gun. Airplane! was both a critical and commercial success and would go on to earn over $83m on a $3.5m budget. It cemented ZAZ’s reputation as reliable comedy writers and directors and, as well as Police Squad! and Naked Gun, the 1980s and early 1990s saw the release of Top Secret!, Ruthless People and Hot Shots! (1 & Deux). Airplane! was also both multi-award winning and hugely influential on budding comedy performers and directors.

The artwork of the twisted plane featured on posters for the film across the world and was painted by the celebrated artist, filmmaker and author Robert Grossman. Born in New York City in 1940, he received his earliest training from his father who was a display painter. He would go on to study at Yale University and graduated with a BA in Fine Arts in 1961. Two years later Grossman began a freelance career that would see him working for the next 50 years. His work has appeared over 500 times on the covers of various national publications such as Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Esquire. In addition to magazine and newspapers, his illustrations have also graced children’s books and record sleeves for the likes of Columbia and Warner Bros. The Airplane! illustration is one of his most famous pieces of work. As far as I can tell Grossman only worked on a painting for two other film posters during his career, both of which can be seen here. His official website is here and a gallery of his work can be seen here.

The House of Seven Corpses / one sheet / USA

03.07.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The House of Seven Corpses
AKA
--
Year of Film
1974
Director
Paul Harrison
Starring
John Ireland, Faith Domergue, John Carradine, Carole Wells, Charles Macaulay, Jerry Strickler, Ron Foreman, Dennis Record, Marty Hornstein
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1974
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 4/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
74/20
Tagline
Eight graves! Seven bodies! One killer... and he's already dead.

This is the US one sheet for the release of the largely forgotten 1974 horror, The House of Seven Corpses. The film was the sole feature film directing credit for Paul Harrison who seems to have spent more time as a screenwriter. It stars the prolific character actor John Ireland who is known for his many appearances in Westerns (and the 1960 classic Spartacus) and Faith Domergue, star of some 1950s sci-fi flicks such as This Island Earth. John Carradine, the ridiculously prolific actor (351 appearances!) and father of several actors, including David, also appears.

Ireland plays Eric Hartman, a film director who has decided to shoot his next picture in the titular mansion where seven members of the same family met their untimely ends in various ways. Hoping that the location will provide a suitable ambience to the picture, Hartman only has to put up with the cantankerous caretaker Edgar Price (Carradine) and a difficult star in Gayle Dorian (Domergue) who it’s hinted Hartman had a relationship with in the past. The director’s assistant David discovers the Tibetan Book of the Dead in the house (as you do) and decides to suggest some of the text is used in the witchcraft scenes in the film. Unfortunately, this then triggers the reanimation of a zombie from the graveyard outside the mansion and it proceeds to work it’s murderous way through the cast and crew.

Sadly, the film is almost entirely lacking in any sense of tension or horror and it’s over an hour (of a 90 minute film) before the zombie rises up. None of the characters are particularly appealing so it’s a fairly dull watch for most of the time. There’s a twist that’s incredibly badly handled, so much so that I had no idea it had taken place until I read a plot synopsis afterwards!

This one sheet is at least fairly interesting, with a creepy graveyard image that has been made using a cut and paste photomontage technique. The film’s logo is also very 1970s.

Prime Cut / one sheet / style A / USA

27.06.17

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Title
Prime Cut
AKA
Carnage (France)
Year of Film
1972
Director
Michael Ritchie
Starring
Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Angel Tompkins, Gregory Walcott, Sissy Spacek, Janit Baldwin, William Morey, Clint Ellison, Howard Platt, Les Lannom
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Style B
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1972
Designer
Tom Jung
Artist
Tom Jung
Size (inches)
27 3/16" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
72/57
Tagline
Together They're Murder In...

A painting by the American artist Tom Jung, who is best known for his work on the style A poster for the release of the first Star Wars film, features on this one sheet for the 1972 crime-drama, Prime Cut. The film was directed by the late Michael Ritchie (Fletch, Downhill Racer) and stars two heavyweight actors of the time in Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman. The former had a string of box-office hits playing tough guys in films such as Point Blank and The Dirty Dozen, and the latter had just starred in the unforgettable The French Connection and was to appear in The Poseidon Adventure in the same year as Prime Cut. It also marked the acting debut of Sissy Spacek who would appear in her most famous role four years later in Brian De Palma’s Carrie.

The plot sees Nick Devlin (Marvin), a Chicago mob enforcer, sent with a crew of men to Kansas City to track down Mary Ann (Hackman) and recover a $500,000 debt. Previous men sent by the mob have disappeared and we witness one being ‘processed’ through Mary Ann’s meat factory, ending up as the filling in a string of sausages that are then sent to the mob boss as a taunt. After driving to Kansas, Devlin first attacks Mary Ann’s brother and warns him that the group are there to collect the debt. The following day they find Mary Ann in a barn where he is the ringleader of a white-slave auction in which young girls are being auctioned off to older men. The women are kept naked in pens like livestock and drugged up so they don’t try to escape. Devlin threatens Mary Ann and rescues one of the women called Poppy (Spacek) “on account”. The rest of the film sees him attempting to secure the missing money and avoiding Mary Ann’s gang of denim-wearing, shotgun-toting farm boys.

The film is fairly brisk at just under 90 minutes and both leads are entertaining to watch throughout. Spacek is also excellent as Poppy and it’s not hard to see why her career took off quickly following her appearance in Prime Cut. There are several memorable scenes in the film, including one faintly ridiculous one where Devlin and Poppy are chased through a wheatfield by a combine harvester, which then goes onto chew up an entire car!

As well as the iconic one sheet for Star Wars, Tom Jung is also known for the style B one sheet for The Empire Strikes Back. He was a prolific designer and illustrator for film campaigns from the 1950s through to the 1980s. IMPAwards features a gallery of his work and his Wikipedia article has a selected list of the many posters he worked on. Rather unusually, at least in comparison to other film poster artists, Jung was also a designer of his posters as well as the artist. The other posters I’ve collected by him can be seen here.

Note that this is the Style A one sheet and style B is photographic. Rather unusually, the decision was taken to insert ‘A’ in next to the title at the bottom of the poster which makes it look like the title is ‘A Prime Cut’.

Naked Lunch / quad / UK

22.06.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Naked Lunch
AKA
Hadaka no lunch (Japan)
Year of Film
1991
Director
David Cronenberg
Starring
Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider, Monique Mercure, Nicholas Campbell, Michael Zelniker
Origin of Film
Canada | UK | Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Biography | Comedy | Drama
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1991
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
30 1/16" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
Exterminate all rational thought

Naked Lunch is cult Canadian director David Cronenberg‘s semi-adaptation of the celebrated American writer William S. Burroughsnovel of the same name. The book, which is a collection of vignettes with little in the way of connecting narrative, was written in 1959 and several attempts had been made over the years to try and adapt it for the screen. The structure of the book meant crafting a coherent plot was a tall order for any screenwriter, so Cronenberg decided to try a slightly different approach. The resultant film features scenes and characters from the vignettes but blends them with a semi-biographical look at the process Burroughs went through to write the original book, and includes incidents and characters (albeit renamed) from his experiences during the Beat Generation literary movement of the 1950s.

The resultant film, despite having more of a connecting narrative, is no less batshit crazy for it. Peter Weller plays Burroughs as William Lee (a sometime pen name of the author) who is working as a bug exterminator and whose wife Joan Lee (Judy Davis) has become addicted to the powder he uses to kill the critters. He is also a heroin addict and is arrested by the police for possession. Whilst in custody he begins to hallucinate and sees a giant bug who tells him he is being recruited as a secret agent and that his mission is to kill Joan who may or not be a shape-shifting agent working for a shady organisation. Disbelieving, he smashes the bug and escapes from custody, returning home to find Joan having sex with one of his friends. Soon afterwards he accidentally kills Joan by shooting her in the head after attempting to shoot a glass off her head, William Tell-style (this mirrors a real incident in which Burroughs killed his then partner Joan Vollmer in Mexico).

On the run from the police, he’s introduced to a bipedal alien called a Mugwump in a bar who gives him a travel ticket to get to Interzone (an area of a North African country) where he can lie low and carry out missions for his ‘handlers’. There he meets a whole host of odd characters, including Tom Frost (Ian Holm) and his wife Joan who bears a striking relation to his deceased wife. He continues to write reports for his imaginary handlers, with his typewriter soon morphing into another talking bug. Things continue to get progressively weirder as he is told to search out the mysterious Dr Benway, the source of a drug that is swamping the Interzone.

The above description makes the film sound vaguely conventional when it is anything but and there’s no doubt that it’s a marmite film for many who watch it. The film had a botched release in North America which saw it only recouping a small percentage of its original budget due to a limited number of screenings. Nevertheless it was largely lauded by critics and has since garnered something of a cult following.

This British quad features a unique design that includes a close-up photograph of Weller’s William Lee above a centipede. The film had a range of poster designs across the globe, with little repetition in the designs. The US one sheet is memorable but by far my favourite is the incredible Japanese ‘bug’-style poster that features a freaky illustration by H Sorayama.

Into the Abyss / one sheet / USA

16.06.17

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Into the Abyss
AKA
Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life (long title) | Tod in Texas [Dead in Texas] (Germany)
Year of Film
2011
Director
Werner Herzog
Starring
Werner Herzog, Richard Lopez, Michael Perry, Damon Hall, Lisa Stolter-Balloun, Charles Richardson, Jason Burkett
Origin of Film
USA | UK | Germany
Genre(s) of Film
Documentary | Crime | Drama
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2011
Designer
P+A / Mojo
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27 1/16" x 39 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
A tale of death, a tale of life

This is the US one sheet for the release of Werner Herzog‘s 2011 documentary, Into the Abyss. The film is one of the legendary German director’s best films from the past decade and focuses on the situation of a prisoner in a maximum security prison in Texas who is awaiting execution. The subject is one that Herzog had wanted to focus on for a number of years and he had originally intended to look at life inside a maximum security prison in Germany. Originally the director planned to interview a number of death row inmates but ended up focusing on just one, Michael Perry, and looking into the reason for his incarceration and (at that time) imminent execution.

Using the director’s trademark interview style, where he asks questions off-camera typically to a single person, the film looks at the crime that Perry and an accomplice are said to have perpetrated and the effect it has had on the victims’ families. Herzog shies away from trying to decipher whether Perry is guilty or innocent (the man himself claims innocence) of the murder of three people in Conroe, Texas in 2001. The film is gripping throughout and some of the most memorable scenes are when the siblings of the murdered people are interviewed. One person in particular has suffered such imaginable loss it is almost breathtaking.

This poster was designed by P+A (Percival and Associates) an established and prolific design company whose output can be viewed on IMPAwards. Their official website is not currently up and running. Mojo design were also involved but the company now appears to be defunct (Into the Abyss was one of their last posters) – their output can also be viewed on IMPAwards.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid / 30×40 / USA

12.06.17

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
AKA
La légende de Jesse James (France)
Year of Film
1972
Director
Philip Kaufman
Starring
Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew, R.G. Armstrong, Dana Elcar, Donald Moffat, John Pearce, Matt Clark, Wayne Sutherlin ... Charley Pitts Robert H. Harris Robert H. Harris
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Western
Type of Poster
30x40
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1972
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
30" x 40 2/16"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
72/151
Tagline
The West the way it really was! | Cole Younger and Jesse James starring in the greatest western of the century!

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid is a 1972 Western, written and directed by the American director Philip Kaufman. The film was Kaufman’s first commercial film following the two independent pictures he had directed in the 1960s. He is perhaps best known for the 1983 film The Right Stuff, based on the lives of the first test pilots involved in the race for space during the 1950s. This film is roughly based on the escapades of the real-life outlaws, the James-Younger Gang, who were active during the latter half of the 19th Century.

The film focuses on one of the gang’s most famous escapades which was the robbery of the bank known as ‘the biggest west of the Mississippi’ in the titular town of Northfield, Minnesota. The late actor Cliff Robertson appears as Cole Younger and Robert Duvall stars as Jesse James. That same year Duvall appeared in one of his most famous roles as Tom Hagen in The Godfather, and also starred alongside Clint Eastwood in the western Joe Kidd. The botched raid on the bank would have tragic consequences for most of the gang and eventually saw Cole Younger captured. Jesse James and one other man escaped but he was later infamously killed by a member of his own gang (brilliantly depicted in the 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).

I’m unsure who is responsible for the artwork on this US 30×40 poster, which also features on the US one sheet and insert posters. If anyone has any ideas please get in touch.